Organizing Tips and Tricks
Recruitment Calls: Instead of just sending an email about an event, call members of your team and try to recruit them to come over the phone with a strong ask in addition to email. You’re more likely to get a yes. The hierarchy of asks goes: in person, over the phone, by text, through email. Check out this SDAN study for more details.
Confirmation Calls: Within 48 hours of an event, make a reminder call to your list of attendees to remind them about the event and give them all the details that they’ll need to know. This will decrease your “drop off rate” (the number between your list of attendees and the amount of people that actually show up).
Add Excitement: People like competition or some form of celebration when something goes well. Consider putting up a leaderboard of who gets the most supporters or recruits the most volunteers. You could give a prize to the person who finishes first. Additionally, you could ring a bell and have everyone cheer when someone gets a supporter/recruits a volunteer. Also, everyone loves snacks.
Trainers and Greeters: These roles are super important to make new volunteers or inexperience phone-bankers feel welcomed and comfortable. These people frequently do the one-on-ones that are critical building blocks for organizing a strong team.
One-on-Ones: These are individual meetings between a leader, host, or DC with a new or newer attendee/volunteer. Ask them about themselves, why they got involved, share about you, explain how this has been an enjoyable experience for you. These meetings can break the ice and make the new person feel more comfortable and feel that they have an ally, someone they can come to.
Debriefs: At the end of an event, it’s helpful to get everyone who participated in it to share their highs and lows from the activity. This is a good way to build camaraderie, even if it’s commiserating in a low contact rate or rude voter. It is a good team-building opportunity and an important time for others to share what worked well for them that may help others in the future. It also gives the person running the event an opportunity to reassure any concerns that come up. If you can’t get a whole team to do this, it’s still a good activity to do individually with an attendee/volunteer, which will help you build a relationship with them and reassure their concerns.
Rescheduling Shifts: When you have someone at an event in person, make sure you get them scheduled for another event before they leave. It generally helps to ask them at the end of the event and after making a personal connection with them. The hardest request to turn down is one in person.
Old Adage: There’s an old organizing adage, “they come for the candidate and stay for the organizer.” A person may sign up to volunteer because of their support or enthusiasm for a candidate or a mission, but what will determine whether they come back again will be the organizer. If you’re a District Captain/Volunteer Leader or event host, or trainer/greeter, this means you! The organizer is the person who should make a connection with the volunteer and will help determine the volunteer’s overall experience, comfort, and outlook. The biggest factor in whether they will return is the connections they make and their overall experience. You have the ability to be a major factor in this. Of course you should then build importance, use strong language, and come with a strong specific ask to re-shift them.
Strong, Specific Asks: Just like when you’re talking to a voter, it’s especially important to make strong, specific asks when trying to recruit a new volunteer or re-shift an existing volunteer. There are three parts to this: build importance, use strong language, and be specific. “Phone-banks are one of the most important aspects of any campaign. This race will be won on the phones. We have another phone-bank next Wednesday from 5:00pm-8:00pm at (location). Can we count on you?” Then, you wait for an answer. If you get a “no” (which is unlikely, you’ll probably get a reason), that’s ok, problem solve. From there, you work it out. “No worries, you have to work late next Wednesday, I understand, how about the week after?” This will greatly increase your chances of securing a commitment. If they are a firm no, thank them enthusiastically and move on.
Ladder Up: People like titles and positions. If you have a volunteer that is really good or seems like they could be an integral part of your team, move them up the ladder. Give them compliments on their work and ask them to move into a role. It doesn’t have to be a big role, it could be a “captain” role, it could be a “trainer” or just a “helper/leader.” This will only reaffirm their commitment. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a phone-banker or post-carder anymore, quite the opposite. Let them know that they’ll still be doing their original tasks, but also be another trainer or an extra pair of hands to count on for various tasks. This will make them feel good, increase the chances that they will be a reoccurring volunteer, and will help train volunteers and manage your events.
Inactive Volunteers: The most likely person to volunteer in the future is someone who volunteered in the past. One of the best ways to recruit volunteers is to go through your list of inactive volunteers or volunteers who signed up and showed interest but never got plugged in. Many teams have had great success calling through their old sign up lists. If you need help with this, get in touch with your organizing staff.
Plug Them in ASAP: The more recently the person signed up or previously volunteered, the “hotter” the lead is, and the more likely they are to say yes… so call them first! It’s really important to have a Welcome Wagon role on your team to reach out to new sign-ups. You’ll introduce yourself, provide them with relevant information, assess their interests, reassure them, and get them plugged in. It’s a race to do this as soon as they sign up. Try to get every person that you have this conversation with to commit to attending at least one event.
Phrasing: When recruiting volunteers to canvass or phonebank, don’t phrase it in those terms. You should ask them instead to “speak with voters about how important this election is.” It allows for a simpler and less daunting or difficult task. This will potentially avoid the preconceived notions they have about phonebanking or canvassing.
Tools: Using tools that are accessible to you will make your life easier and will allow you to be a more efficient organizer and leader. You can use Mailchimp to sync with Knack (our internal system), so you don’t have to manually send out a welcome email to every new signup. Use Eventbrite or make a Facebook event to share event information and build a list of attendees. You can use Google Voice or Sideline to change your cell phone number to a local number when phonebanking. This will give you a higher contact rate and protect your private information. If you make the call private or dial from an out of the area, your contact rate will be drastically lower.